Tuesday, November 21, 2006


The Bob and Tom show, continued

As we noted in our previous post about Bob Bennett's phony bluster about Tom Noe's sentencing, there are still an enormous number of questions that have got to be making the entire GOP establishment squirm. Especially with Marc Dann as AG.

The Blade's reporters get it. In spades.
Others suggest that they will answer the remaining big question: Did the Republican leaders of the state open the treasury to Noe because of his GOP cache?

State Sen. Marc Dann, the Youngstown-area Democrat who will take office in January as attorney general largely based on his vocal criticism of the state's rare-coin investment, said he plans to examine the origin of the coin deal, including "how it came about, how it was proposed, who made the decisions about the transfer of the money, and what pressure, if any, came from the governor's office."

. . .

Investigators said the final verdict in the "Coingate" scandal, as the Noe affair has been dubbed, has not been reached. They say others are being investigated and that state and federal charges likely will be filed against additional people.

Tom Wersell, head of the bureau's investigations' unit, said the task force first assembled to look into Noe is studying state laws to see what crimes may have been committed beyond those already identified.
And then there's the whole MCO political-corruption-cum-organized crime stew that's bubbling so hot that even the Taft's Inspector Clouseau, Tom Charles, has his bones rattled:
Mr. Charles said he has not been able to release a report on the Noe investigation because the federal-state probe into the bureau's investment practices is ongoing - and the investigation has expanded into whether politics played a role in bureau decisions in setting premium rates for certain employers.
So, until Bob Bennett starts supplying names and dates, its there any reason why this guy deserves any respect or credibility?

BTW - despite the disaster the Ohio GOP has turned into, we hear Bennett wants to stay and is telling everyone that the national GOP wants him to stay, too. Now that his mystique has been shattered, we say 'keep him on' - he'll make a great punching bag for the next two years.


Seeing trees, not the forest

Bennett (via Gongwer):
“Tom Noe is a liar and a thief, and his crimes have damaged the public trust. His name is forever associated with corruption. The only thing good that can now come of Tom Noe’s legacy is a renewed commitment to ensuring that his crimes never happen again.”
Bob's comments are all well and good and full of the pompous outrage one might expect. But, again, he is allowed to evade two questions:
Is the steno corps still too ball-less to ask the important questions?

Monday, November 20, 2006


Rotten eggs

We are hoping that maybe a Strickland-led Dept. of Agriculture can put an end to this egg farm farce once and for all.
Ohio’s largest egg producer lost a big battle in its fight to stay open when a state hearing officer said the agriculture department should revoke its permits.

The ruling against Ohio Fresh Eggs, which has farms in Licking, Wyandot and Hardin counties, could mean that the company would have to sell its chickens and close the farm.

It is the latest action in a long fight between the egg farm, its neighbors and state officials who had previously shut down Buckeye Egg Farm, the company’s previous owner.
Coincidentally, last week scientists again issued grave warnings about factory farm operations:
Six reports, written by three dozen scientists mostly from the American Midwest and Scandinavia, were published last week in the online version of the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Among their recommendations are limits on the density of animals and mandatory extensive environmental reviews for new feedlots. They also called for a ban on the use of antibiotics to promote animal growth, and that the drugs be available to factory farms only through prescriptions. The scientists also said they are worried about the danger of a flu pandemic spread by feedlots with both hogs and poultry, and urged new rules that set minimum distances separating them.
And, with the mounting concern about pandemic flu - linked to unsanitary poultry practices in several countries - it's past time for getting this situation under control.*

(* We fully understand that many models suggest a pandemic is more likely to spread via human movements around the world rather than via migratory birds, however there is some evidence from the 1918 pandemic that the deadly flu strains brewed in unsanitary agricultural settings for several years before the right combination of forces unleashed the "Spanish Flu" on the world. Also, we doubt whether the state of Ohio will ever have the ability to adequately regulate and inspect a facility of this size, and the price of failing to do so is enormously large on the rest of the environment, including helping spread Avian flu among other bird species.)


Noe looking at 20+ years and perhaps $15 million

Okay, taxpayers will see little if any of the money (unless Fox and Judith Regan sign him to some media deal), but Noe is good for at least From the Blade:
Tom Noe, convicted last week on 29 charges for stealing from Ohio's $50 million rare-coin fund, was sentenced to 18 years in state prison and ordered to pay fines and restitution, by Judge Thomas Osowik this morning in Lucas County Courthouse.

The sentence is in addition to a 27-month federal sentence that was imposed in September for illegal laundering money to President Bush.

Noe was fined $213,000 by Judge Osowik and ordered to pay the cost of the prosecution, estimated at $2.5 million and ordered to pay restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, estimated at $13.7 million.

"You cooked the books ... it was an elaborate scheme," Judge Osowik said
before sentencing Noe.

Mr. Osowik said Noe's crimes were premeditated and he "continued to manipulate" the bureau until May 2005 - even after an internal auditor raised concerns about the coin funds.

The judge said Noe acted as if he had a "bottomless cup" of wealth, which was really backed by state money.
While, Eder and Wilkinson seem to make it pretty clear that Osowik was disgusted by Noe's schemes, the Dispatch's reporter assigned to the courtroom filed this different observation:
Although Osowik said the case was a “run-of-the mill embezzlement,” he ruled that Noe was in a position of public trust and stole form the state investment at “shockingly alarming rate.”
Were these guys at the same sentencing hearing? We weren't there, but it's hard to imagine that Osowik both said it was a run of the mill embezzlement and and elaborate scheme. Given that the Dispatch's post was written by Ohio's worst reporter, we've got a feeling that Eder and Wilkinson got the tone in the courtroom right.

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